Today Zerf and Oberzerf are considered one municipality, even though they are more than a mile apart. But in the 1800s, Zerf and Oberzerf were distinct villages in Kreis Saarburg, each with its own Roman Catholic church, even though only one priest served both.
On the window side of the church there was a stand holding a 60 cm high figure of Saint Hubertus. It was a hand carved oak baroque figure also dating from around 1730, about the time the old church was built. Hubertus is in the garb of a Bishop and holds a staff. His stole and garments are very finely worked. A hunting horn is in his left hand and a small animal figure with antlers in the form of a cross stands at his right. These things signified that he was the patron saint of hunters and foresters. Legend has it that Hubertus, a wealthy young noble, went off to hunt while most people in his town were at Good Friday services. He chased a stag which suddenly turned to face him. The animal had a cross between his antlers. Hubertus heard the voice of God telling him to quit his worldly ways or he would surely find himself in hell. Hubertus heeded the warning, becoming a saintly cleric and bishop, devoted to helping the poor.
The oldest statue in the Oberzerf church is thought to be that of St. Anthony of Padua, much venerated because he was the patron Saint of the poor. Its style is that of southern French statues in about the 1600's. The statue of St Anne with her daughter Mary, the mother of Christ, was also displayed and venerated.
The main altar of the Catholic Church in Zerf from 1858?
The dominant Catholic church of the Zerf parish, located in what was then sometimes called Niederzerf (lower Zerf), was dedicated to St. Laurentius. References to a Catholic church located in Zerf were noted even before the 30 Year's War. The Niederzerf church was rebuilt or refurbished many times over the last several centuries. It is believed that those previous churches stood in the same location as the current church; a rocky hill that overlooks the valley where the Grossbach stream separates from the Ruwertal river.
By the 19th century, the Zerf church and bell tower from the previous century were once again badly in need of renovation. So in 1819-1820, construction of a new building was begun with a bell tower around 30 meters high. On May 26, 1830 the new church with its impressive tower was dedicated again to St. Laurentius but this time St. Sebastian was also included as a protector of the parish. The bishop who officiated at the consecration was Joseph von Hommer.
Almost 40 years later, in 1859, that tall bell tower experienced a fire and the top portion of the tower had to be rebuilt.
It seems (if I have not misinterpreted a very complicated sentence construction from Herr Christofell's history of Zerf) that in the 1850's, the altar dating from the early 18th century which was from the St. Laurentius Church in Saarburg was sold to St. Laurentius parish in Zerf for a cost of 50 Taler, and that high altar was installed in Zerf. The 1858 altar was destroyed during WWII.
Several statues were described by Herr Christoffel, but I was unable to tell if they dated from the time my ancestors lived in Oberzerf. One important object that was a part of the church in their time was a baptismal font from 1838. It was made of sandstone and the pedestal portion shows an apple tree with a serpent wound around the trunk. The bowl of the font had perpendicular deep grooves and in each groove was carved a bell-shaped flower.
Perhaps it will seem that I have spent an inordinate amount of time describing the churches of my ancestors, but I think of it as plugging holes. I began this blog to organize my factual materials in order to find illusive facts when I was ready to write a detailed novel. I decided to share my material with anyone who chose to look for a topic which was also of interest to them.
Nico Haas Thomassin, Trier
Theo Hasse, Zerf.
Christoffel, Edgar. Der Hochwaldort Zerf am Fuße des Hunrücks, Verlag W. Rassier, Saarburg, 1981